With the Iranian revolution now six months old, it is becoming clear that the role of women there is changing, in lien with the strict moral codes of the Islamic faith.
With the Iranian revolution now six months old, it is becoming clear that the role of women there is changing, in lien with the strict moral codes of the Islamic faith. One of the most controversial aspects of the country's new constitution is the standing of women in Islamic society -- despite assertions of equality with men, many women in Iran are concerned about what they see as a threat to their jobs, legal rights in marriage and property, and to education. But in neighbouring Soviet Union Islamic states, where there are about 45 million Moslems, women can at least look for protection of their rights in the Soviet constitution.
SYNOPSIS: Before the Russian revolution these women in Uzbekistan would have had few rights under Moslem law. Since then though, they've enjoyed equal rights with men, under article 35 of the constitution.
That entitles them to equal opportunities in employment, and the same chance, as men, to get vocational and professional training. In Uzbekistan, women seem to have made full use of the opportunities. Along with women traffic police, there are women taxi drivers and women trade union leaders.
There are also women who drive heavy vehicles ... something that, even in western countries, is still a rare sight. And one out of three engineers in Uzbekistan is a woman.
Working women are entitled to special labour and health facilities. Those with children also receive support, which includes paid leave and a gradual reduction, if they have small children, of working hours.
One indication of the change that has taken place can be seen in a factory which produces embroidered hats to traditional Uzbek designs. there is only one man working here now, in what was once a male-only industry. Under Moslem tradition, a woman's touch would have rendered worthless the gold and silver thread used in the designs... presuming even that a woman could have got past the Moslem belief that women belong only in the home.
Times have changed. Three out of every four doctors in Uzbekistan is a woman. And they are witnessing a fall in the sate's birth rate, from an average of 5 to 7 children a family to about 3 -- though this is still higher than the average in the western, Slavic Soviet states. And it is a figure which has led to predictions that, in less than a generation's time, there could be 100 million Soviet Moslems, as against 150 million Slavic Soviets.
The predicted increase in the Moslem population and the events in Iran have led to speculation that, there might be a Moslem challenge to Soviet power. In Uzbekistan this seems unlikely. the Moslem hold on daily life, common in many Middle Eastern countries, is on the wane here, as western life styles are increasingly adopted... including that of women dressing for the theatre.